After a two-month delay, the second episode is here, based on a season 7 episode, this time focusing on a one-shot from season 9.
North Western Engines, Long Ago
Episode 2: Running Late
Based on "The Grand Opening" by James Mason
At Crovan's Gate, the North Western Railway connects to a narrow gauge railway that runs by a lake in the woods and beautiful waterfall. The railway is run by four little engines named Skarloey, Rheneas, Proteus and Bertram.
Skarloey and Rheneas are the oldest engines on the railway, having arrived in the mid 1860's during the railway's earliest days and around the time of the Sodor and Mainland Railway. Skarloey was more excited and bouncy, while Rheneas was more serious and thoughtful. Over the last five decades, the two engines have matured ever since they were "young and foolish". Both are painted red with blue lining.
Proteus was number three and the youngest of the fleet, a tank engine with a similar design to No. 3 on the Corris Railway from the Falcon Works. Proteus does try his hardest to be right on time for every run, but gets very upset when he runs late. Unlike Skarloey and Rheneas, Proteus was painted blue with no lining.
Bertram was number four, and the railway's strongest engine, a tender engine based on those from the Ffestiniog Railway. He was brave and willing to help others even if he was crippled. He was painted in a dark brown with the Skarloey Railway's symbol on his tender.
The four engines know everyone, and everybody knows them.
One morning, not long after Alexandra's accident, a Midland Railway 115 Single was waiting impatiently with a stopping passenger train. A goods train was supposed to pass through, but it had been delayed due to a derailment.
The Single groaned. "Just perfect," she complained, "I can't be running late to Kirk Ronan! Passengers are our main priority!"
Skarloey was nearby resting outside the sheds, and looked over to the grumbling Single.
"It's okay if we run late every now and then," he said wisely, "it happens even to the most punctual of people and engines."
"For a small engine, you know how to make one feel worse," retorted the Single.
"I was just giving words of wisdom is all," said Skarloey firmly, "and I tell you, one of our engines, Proteus, tended to act this way. Would you like me to tell you?"
"I suppose," the Single conceded, "I've got nothing better to do than wait."
"Very well," smiled Skarloey, "this happened a few months ago before you and your friends arrived..."
"I have some important news," said the Thin Controller, "our railway's Golden Jubilee is coming up in a few weeks and our celebration is to be held by the lake."
"Pardon my interruption," said Proteus, "but why is a celebration gold? They don't have a specific color, do they?"
"A Golden Jubilee," explained Rheneas, "is to celebrate the 50th anniversary."
"Correct, Rheneas," said the Thin Controller, "and because the railway opened in 1865, this year marks the 50th anniversary. I want you all to work your hardest and be on time for the celebration."
"Yes, sir," said the four engines. Proteus was anxious; he took the Thin Controller's words "be on time" a little too seriously.
The next day, Proteus had to wait for Heather to arrive with the express from Kirk Ronan. It was his turn today to pull Agnes, Ruth, Lucy, Jemima and Beatrice, and he waited impatiently for Heather to arrive.
"Where is she?" he grumbled, "The express must be running late!"
"Don't fret," said his driver calmly, "there's plenty of time before Heather shows up. There's no need to rush."
But Proteus did fret. Soon Heather steamed into view.
"About time you showed up!" cried Proteus, "I can't be kept waiting!"
"Don't be silly," puffed Heather, "I'm running on schedule, in fact. What's with the attitude?"
"I can't have my trains running late," insisted Proteus, "I must be on time, whatever the weather!"
Soon Heather's passengers boarded into the old coaches, and when the guard's whistle blew, Proteus steamed off quickly, despite his crew trying to slow him down.
"Don't bump us! Don't bump us!" snapped Agnes crossly.
"Can't be late! Can't be late!" huffed Proteus.
"I've heard of perfectionists about being on time," said Heather, "but this is ridiculous!"
"I know what you mean," agreed Bertram, who was resting nearby.
Throughout the day, Proteus did his best to keep to time, but before he reached Glennock station, he had to stop because sheep were blocking the track.
"Oh, bother!" he grumbled, "This is going to make me late!"
"No worry," said Proteus' driver, "we'll get them out of our way with your whistle."
Proteus blew his whistle long and loud. This startled the sheep and they ran back to their farm.
"Thank you very much, Proteus," the farmer said, "my sheep are safe once again. Sorry about the delay they caused."
"No problem," said the driver, "we best be on our way."
"I can't run late!" cried Proteus, "Let's go!"
Proteus hastily set off, bumping the coaches as he went.
"Oh!" the coaches cried, "Watch it!" But Proteus didn't listen, for he was trying to run on time. However, he was going to end up in trouble with the Thin Controller...
"I've heard about how rough you were with the coaches today," the Thin Controller said sternly that evening, "and the passengers have complained about a bumpy ride!"
"I'm sorry, sir," said Proteus, "I was just trying to be on time!"
"Nevertheless, you will be on goods services until you can be trusted with passengers again," said the Thin Controller, and he walked sternly away.
"The old coaches must be treated with kindness, Proteus," said Skarloey firmly, "you should know that by now."
"It's not my fault those rotten sheep got in my way," grumbled Proteus.
"At least you stopped before they got hurt," Rheneas pointed out, "it's best to take care around animals after all."
"And to make sure passengers have a safe, comfortable ride," added Bertram.
"All in all," finished Skarloey, "sometimes running late can be a blessing."
Proteus said nothing; he was still frustrated about running late.
At last, the day of the railway's Golden Jubilee arrived. Skarloey and Rheneas were to take Agnes, Ruth, Lucy, Jemima and Beatrice along the Skarloey Railway from Skarloey all the way to Crovan's Gate. Edward was also going to bring passengers to Crovan's Gate for the celebration too.
Bertram and Proteus were at Balladwail Quarry waiting for the workmen to load their trucks full of stone to take to Skarloey station. Proteus, of course, grumbled impatiently.
"Come on," he said, "I want to be on time for the celebrations!"
"We will be," said Bertram, "just be patient and we'll be fine."
Proteus just ignored Bertram and wanted to leave as soon as he could. At last the job was done. No sooner had the guard's whistle blown when Proteus started off with a jerk.
"Easy!" cried Bertram, "You could've damaged something, you know!"
Meanwhile, Skarloey and Rheneas had to stop at Glennock station to let Proteus and Bertram pass. Rheneas was starting to feel a bit poorly and was wheezing.
"You should get a checkover when we get back," said Skarloey worriedly.
"I can manage," huffed Rheneas, "I've suffered worse before."
Skarloey looked ahead. "There's Proteus and Bertram," he said, "and from the looks of it, Proteus is in a hurry... again."
"Come on! Come on!" huffed Proteus.
"No rush, no rush," replied Bertram.
"Will he learn not to be so impatient?" Rheneas sighed, "Once bitten, twice shy."
At last, Bertram and Proteus made it to Skarloey.
"Finally!" gasped Proteus, "We'll be able to make it to Crovan's Gate!"
But he spoken too soon as the stationmaster showed up. "You'll need to arrange the trucks into their proper sidings," he said.
"Oh, me and my big mouth," snapped Proteus.
"Let's get to work," said Bertram, "and do me a favor, will you?"
"Shut up and stop complaining."
Proteus grumbled again as he and Bertram arranged the trucks to where they were needed.
Skarloey and Rheneas were puffing down the line after they left Cros-ny-Cuirn, the last station before Crovan's Gate. Not long after they left, Rheneas felt he could go no further.
"My tubes are leaking," he wheezed.
"I'll do my best for both of us!" huffed Skarloey. He did what he could, but his driver was worried.
"Your coal supply is running low, Skarloey," he said, "even with Rheneas' coal, you might not make it to Crovan's Gate."
"We're out of luck," called Rheneas' driver, "we're low on coal too!"
"Just great," said Skarloey's driver, "what are we going to do now? The Thin Controller will not be pleased."
"Even with a low supply," said Skarloey, "I want to try and see how far I can get. We can't let our passengers down, after all."
The guard told the passengers about the situation, and they understood why they stopped. Skarloey was given the last of Rheneas' coal and he pulled his hardest until he found he could not move any further.
"I need a drink, driver!" he gasped, but it seemed luck was not on his side today.
"We're out of water," Skarloey's driver, "now it seems like a walk for the passengers, and the two engines will have to miss the celebration."
Then they heard two whistles. Proteus and Bertram steamed up behind Beatrice and came to a stop.
"Proteus! Bertram!" exclaimed Skarloey, "Thank goodness you're running late as well!"
"What's the problem?" asked Bertram.
"I've run out of coal, and Skarloey's got no more water," said Rheneas, "can you help us get to Crovan's Gate? The passengers will miss the celebration otherwise."
Even if he was running late himself, Proteus could see that Skarloey and Rheneas were in trouble, so he agreed to help. He and Bertram buffered up behind Beatrice and were coupled up. The two engines pushed the five coaches and two stranded engines all the way to Crovan's Gate.
At Crovan's Gate, Edward was waiting with the Fat Director, Mr. Stafford, and the Thin Controller.
"Where are my engines?" asked the Thin Controller worriedly, "It's not like them to be late."
Then he heard two whistles in the distance. First came Skarloey, then Rheneas, then the coaches, and last of all, Proteus and Bertram. The people cheered as the four little engines rolled into the station.
"We're sorry, sir," panted Proteus, "Skarloey and Rheneas were low on fuel, so Bertram and I had to help..."
The Thin Controller understood, but did speak sternly to Proteus. "You need to be more careful with trucks," he said, having heard from the stationmaster at Skarloey and the workmen at Balladwail Quarry, "especially if in a hurry."
"I know, sir," said Proteus sadly, "I'm sorry, sir."
"However," continued the Thin Controller, "you did help Skarloey and Rheneas out with Bertram's help, otherwise, they could've been later than they already are. So I'll let it slide this time. You've been a very helpful engine today."
"Thank you, sir," Proteus smiled, "and Skarloey, I'm sorry I was rude earlier. You were right; being late may not be a bad thing after all."
"...and right I was," finished Skarloey, "because Proteus and Bertram were late, Rheneas and I were right on time. You see what I mean?"
The Single was silent for a few seconds, then spoke up.
"I do see what you mean," she said, "oh, I didn't introduce myself, did I? My name is Samantha, and you are...?"
"Skarloey," said the old engine.
"Yes, thank you for the story, Skarloey," said Samantha, "I guess being late can be a good thing after all."
Just then Edward pulled in pulling the delayed goods train. Behind him was a Midland Railway 2000 Class 0-6-4 tank engine.
"Your path's clear, Samantha," said Edward, "turns out those trucks were giving Geoff a hard time again."
"It could happen to any engine, especially flawed ones like myself," Geoff grumbled.
"We all have flaws," Edward reasoned, "myself included."
With a blast of the guard's whistle, Samantha set off once again to Kirk Ronan to make up for lost time.
I know Proteus seemed a bit boastful, but at least he wasn't rude to the old coaches like a certain brother of his...
I do hope to work on this and the main series itself at the same time, so leave (thoughtful) reviews on this too; it cannot be overlooked, after all.